Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Castile - Day 6, the Aqueduct of Segovia

If the Alcázar isn’t enough the Aqueduct is the most recognised and famous historical symbol of Segovia. It is the largest Roman structure still standing in Spain and was built at the end of first to early second century AD by the Romans during their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula to bring water from the Río Frío about eighteen kilometres away and requiring an elevated section in its final kilometer from the Sierra de Guadarrama to the walls of the old town. This elevated section is supported by an engineering achievement of one hundred and sixty-six arches and one hundred and twenty pillars constructed on two levels. It is twenty eight metres high and constructed with over twenty thousand large, rough-hewn granite blocks, which are joined without mortar or clamps and have remained in place for two thousand years.
We liked the Aqueduct and looked all round it from every possible angle, it is one of those structures that make you appreciate just how brilliant the Romans were. The fifteenth century professor at the University of Salamanca, Marineus, made the claim that ‘we should have no doubt that whatever memorable thing we come across in Spain is due to the Romans’ and although that canno longer be true at the time it was probably a fair assessment.

Underneath the Aqueduct in the Plaza of Azoguejo at the tourist information office we checked timetables and made plans for our railway journey to Madrid in the morning and then we retraced our steps back to the Plaza Mayor where in the mid to late afternoon sunshine we sat and had another beer and another plate of tapas at a third different bar.
There was only one more thing to do in Sergovia so after the refreshment break we went to the Cathedral to finish off the day. The building was completed in 1577 and is regarded as the World’s last great Gothic Cathedral. There was an admission charge again, which seems to becoming quite normal, so we paid the €3 and then entered what is quite possibly the coldest cathedral in Spain and probably all of Europe. We were inappropriately dressed for sub-zero temperatures and althougth the cathedral was well worth the admission charge and the visit but it was too cold to enjoy it so we sprinted around the naves and the chapels with rather indecent haste and were glad to come about again into the sunshine with only seconds to go before hypothermia set in.

Later in the warm afternoon sunshine we needed to warm up so we ambled around the pretty little streets, bought some wine from a little shop near to the hotel and then went back to the room to drink it and look out from our balcony over the square at the late afternoon activity. The Sercotel Infanta Isabel was a good hotel in an excellent location and we enjoyed the setting and the ambiance as we drank our bottle of local Spanish wine and thoughts turned to dining arrangements for the evening.

By the time we had finished the wine and showered and changed it had become cloudy for the first time since we arrived in Spain but it was still very warm as we joined the Segovians in their evening promenading and we did some shopping for little Molly at a Spanish designer baby shop and then went again to the Aqueduct to take pictures in the fading light of dusk. Later we ate at the restaurant that Kim had shown a preference for the previous evening but I had overruled and it turned out to be an excellent choice with a very tasty choice of food.

It had been a long day and we had done a lot of walking so as we were planning to go to Madrid in the morning we finished early and went back to the hotel for an early night and to make last minute plans for tomorrow.

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